before I offend anybody, I want to say that I love Italian cooking. In fact, risotto with fresh mushroom is one of my best dishes and one that I’m willing to serve any guest in my house.
However, italian cooking seems to me to have become the default way of cooking for many common people but especially for tv chefs. I can certainly see why; italian cuisine is very rustic, often easy to get a grip on and uses few but great-tasting ingredients. It’s just that I feel it’s gotten to the point of being safe and predictable.
There is so much food and styles of food out there. “The other big European cuisine”, the French cuisine, almost seems to have paled a bit in comparison. Perhaps it’s more complex and thusly a bit less alluring. I also think there is a lot of interesting asian cuisines yet to hit mainstream as well as there is african, eastern european, south american, etc.
Most of the big cooking schools are French or Italian. Le Cordon Bleu is French, of course, and I’ll give you a guess as to what the two major styles of cooking taught at the Culinary Institute of America are. So, that means most chefs learn French or Italian cooking, which means most TV chefs are most comfortable with one or the other, which means cooking programs…and so on.
Italian cuisine is tasty, versatile, varied, and mostly simple.
French cuisine can be summed up as an endless series of intricate procedures to stuff a duck’s liver into a buttered goose liver, wrap it in puff pastry, roll it in butter, puree it and stuff it into a terrine, then leaving it to sit for exactly three days before setting it in a mold of clear aspic and brushing it with butter, before beating a duck to death with it and using its liver to begin the recipe anew.
Calvin Trillin referred to that style of French cooking as “Stuff Stuff with Heavy.” Gross, and you couldn’t pay me to eat it. French country cooking, OTOH, can be wonderful. As long as it’s being prepared by a cook and not a chef.
But seriously, most French cooking isn’t nearly so bothersome. There’s a world of difference between the obnoxious, pretentious shit that Real Live French Chefs come up with, and what regular French people cook.
I’ll concede that southern/southeastern French cuisine can be very good, but then it’s basically just Italian food without the pasta, isn’t it? Once you get any distance from the Mediterranean, mostly all you see is the same dismal parade of organ meats, confits, and ex-food grey sludge. Blancmange? Seriously? The most anemic food imaginable outside of the UK.
Yes, I’m prejudiced against France. Having been in rural Italy for the 2006 World Cup, there’s no way that I’ll ever be able to defend France over Italy again; that part of my brain has been necrotized with marching bands and Moretti.
I’m not a “foodie” so feel free to ridicule my comments …bearing in mind that I know where you live…
Italian food is on occassion pleasant,I love Risotto and for that matter I love Pizza,but Italian Pizza is pretty revolting compared with the American version.
French "High cuisine"is disappointing and I hate to say it after hearing all of those stories about "I just popped into a roadside cafe and the owner knocked up an incredible soup/main meal/dessert on the spot " which I’m ashamed to admit I believed,also turned out to be pretty obnoxious.
Maybe when you know that a Brit celebrity Chef is in the area you pull out all of the stops.
Unfortunately us ignorant ungastronomes (Just made that word up) have to bear the brunt of bloody awful food in parts foreign.
I have visited Eastern Europe reasonably often before the collapse of Communism and the food,even in places just for the workers(Members of the Communist Party ate second rate "Western shit"IME)was alaways excellent .
I still dine with East Europeans who most certainly are not chefs and every single time the food has been “To die for”.
I’ve been told that its because the Turks occupied Eastern Europe for so many hundred years and the locals adapted their food to their own.
Turkish food while excellent is ,not the same as E/E food ,IMO not as good as what you get in Hungary,or Slovak or Check.